The local area saw five teams play in the state basketball semifinals this past weekend with two of those teams bringing home the first-place hardware while two other teams earned runner-up spots in the terrific weekend of hoops. It was also the quarterfinal weekend in Missouri as teams punched their tickets to the big school semifinals later this week in Springfield, Mo.

Things started early Friday at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill., as East St. Louis saw their title dreams disappear as the Flyers fell to Metamora 50-43. East St. Louis flew out to a 14-10 lead at the end of the first quarter and extended the lead to 27-19 at the break. That is when Metamora’s defense started to click as they limited the Flyers to 6-20 shooting in the second half. Metamora cut the East St. Louis lead to 36-34 at the end of the third period, outscored the Flyers 16-7 in the final frame, and was 11-12 from the charity stripe to advance to the Class 3A title game. Macaleab Rich led the Flyers with 19 points and seven rebounds. In the third-place contest Friday evening, the Flyers took home the third-place trophy with a 50-48 victory over St. Ignatius.

In the Class 1A title game Saturday morning, Gibault Catholic used both timely shooting and tough-nosed defense in the second half to claim their first state boys’ basketball title with a 65-45 victory over Scales Mound. The Hawks flew out to an early 19-5 lead at the end of the first quarter but Scales Mound only to see the Hornets battle back to trail 252-23 at the break. That is when Gibault turned up their defense as they outscored the Hornets 40-22 in the second half to claim the title. Kaden Augustine paced the Hawks with 24 points while Gavin Kesler scored 18 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds in the win with Hudson Blank chipping in with 15 markers.

Down in Springfield, Mo., The MSHSAA Show-Me Showdown kicked off action as classes 1 through 3 took to the court with three local teams making the title games in all three classes, but only one was able to take home the state championship.

In Class 1, South Iron own their third consecutive title with a 56-47 overtime victory over St. Elizabeth Friday afternoon. The Panthers advanced to the title game with a 65-49 win over Jefferson Conception as Martez Burse finished the semifinal with a double-double with 27 points and 11 boards. Kolton Dinkins added 14 points including four three-point makes to aid in the win.

In the Class 1 title game, South Iron found themselves trailing the Hornets 30-21 at the half before they cut the lead to 39-35 at the end of the third quarter. The game was tight at the end of regulation as the Panthers needed a jumper by Dinkins with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 43-43 and force the extra stanza. After St. Elizabeth scored the first bucket in the overtime, the Panthers went on a 9-0 run to take a 54-45 lead as that is all that they would need to claim their third consecutive state title. Burse once again posted a double-double as he scored 18 points and grabbed 12 boards while Dinkins led the Panthers in scoring with 19 points.

In the Class 2 tournament, Principia continued their incredible run as they defeated the No. 1 team in the state Plattsburg 65-63 but saw their dream season come to an end in a 55-46 loss to Salisbury in the title game.

In the semifinal matchup against the Tigers, the Panthers outscored Plattsburg 13-7 to take a 30-25 lead into the halftime locker room. Principia extended the lead to 46-39 and held on in the final stanza as the Tigers just missed a three-pointer with four seconds remaining to hang on for the win as they advanced to the school’s first state championship game in basketball. Jaylen Edwards led the scoring for the Panthers with 22 points while Jaedyn Jones added 14 markers with Stephen Okoro grabbed a game-high 16 boards in the win.

In the championship game, Salisbury outscored the Panthers 20-11 in the fourth quarter to break open a game that was close throughout to earn the Class 2 title. The game went back and forth for the first three quarters as the game was tied at 35-35 before Salisbury scored the first nine points of the final stanza to pull away for the win. Stephen Okoro paced the Principia offense with 14 points and 21 rebounds while Jones added 13 points and Edwards chipped in with 11 markers for the Panthers who finished the season with a record of 25-7.

Photo Credit – Missouri State High School Activities Association


The Class 3 tournament was exciting as it saw Lutheran North hit a pair of big-time shots in the semifinal to defeat Thayer in overtime 61-60 before falling to New Madrid County Central 56-46 in the Class 3 championship game.

In the semifinal, the Crusaders grabbed an early 16-11 lead at the end of the first quarter and extended the advantage to 32-25 at the break. The Bobcats cut the deficit to 46-41 at the end of the third quarter before the fireworks started at the end of regulation. With Thayer on top 55-52 after a pair of free throws, Izy Prude hit a triple from the left wing as time expired to even the game at 55-55. The overtime period remained tight as each team traded the lead before Thayer hit a three from the corner with 38 seconds left to take a 60-59 lead. The Crusaders took possession and got a rebound from Berry Benson off a shot from Prude and as Benson hit a 10-foot jumper with nine seconds left to give Lutheran North the win. Bryce Spiller paced the Crusaders with 17 points while Davell Long added 15 points in the win.

In the state title game, New Madrid Co. Central raced out to a 26-13 at the half only to see the Crusaders battle back and cut the lead to 34-28 at the end of the third stanza. The Eagles used their full-court pressure in the final period to outscore Lutheran North 22-18 and claim the state title. Spiller ended the day with a team-high 20 points while Prude chipped in with 11 points as the Crusaders finished the season with a 20-11 mark.

The field is set for the second weekend of state championship action this coming weekend as Vashon will lead the boys’ field in Class 4 as they will take on Tolton Thursday at 2 p.m. with Park Hills Central taking on Lafayette out of St. Joe’s in the first game of the weekend at noon Thursday. On the girls’ side in Class 4, The Vashon ladies will take on Southern Boone at 6 p.m. with Park Hills Central playing Benton at 4 p.m.

In the Class 5 tournament, Cardinal Ritter will play Pembroke Hill Friday at 2 p.m. while Ladue will take on Jefferson City Friday at 4 p.m. In girl’s action, Lutheran St. Charles will represent the area and take on West Plains Friday at 8 p.m.

The Class 6 semifinals will feature Troy as they will play Kickapoo Friday at noon on the boys’ side while on the girls’ side, Incarnate Word will play Raytown Friday at 8 p.m. with Eureka taking on Rock Bridge at 6 p.m.


Jim Powers
Jim Powers

Jim Powers has been covering prep sports in the St. Louis area for 15+ years and a part of the Missouri State High School Activities Association Championship Broadcasts for the past 11 years. Powers is also a part of the Fox 2 Verlo Mattress Prep Zone Friday nights at 10:10 during the football and basketball seasons. If you have a prep sports story, please contact Jim at Follow Jim at @hssportscaravan